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5G Summit

5G represents a generational advance over 4G technology as it provides not only advanced data and voice connectivity but is the key platform for the ‘internet of things’ and other advanced automation systems.

The meeting viewed a presentation from Virgin Media O2 illustrating how the transforming impact of good 5G infrastructure is allowing business in a range of sectors to improve their efficiencies and enhance customer experiences.

Gareth Elliot, the public affairs director at the operators’ trade body, Mobile UK, emphasised how the rollout of 5G is led by business and domestic demand. He referenced some of the challenges in the current planning system that are having an impact on the rollout of masts and other infrastructure and stimulated discussion about how these challenges can be resolved.

The summit considered the evidence of a Suffolk Chamber members’ survey which showed that local firms were very aware of the enormous benefits to be had from using 5G. But the same research also suggested many are worried that delays to rolling out the needed infrastructure could hurt their growth plans – and the county’s longer-term prosperity.

A consensus emerged that Suffolk should indeed look to move forward in a coordinated manner to take advantage of 5G technologies and wherever possible support the appropriate rollout of the required infrastructure.

However, the meeting also identified two key barriers to Suffolk doing this: a lack of information about 5G – and what it can do - among key stakeholders and the general public and its benefits and the absence of a coherent campaign across the county seeking to ensure that Suffolk is ‘5G ready’.

Paul Simon, head of public affairs at Suffolk Chamber said: “This was a hugely significant meeting bringing together most of the key influencers within the Suffolk system with those in the 5G sector. This shows how seriously this technology is now being taken across our county.

“Suffolk Chamber, as it does in campaigning for better rail, road and EV charging infrastructure and for an improved skills pipeline to help businesses realise their growth plans, will be once again at the forefront of an important campaign.”

Following the summit, Suffolk Chamber is setting up a 5G Digital Champions Group, reporting into its Transport & Infrastructure Group, and is inviting local councils and others to support it with key political leaders and planners participating. The aim is improve the awareness of the positive benefits of 5G, improve relationships between the mobile industry and planning authorities and advocate for improved infrastructure, including along the A14 Growth Corridor.

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Suffolk Chamber

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